As millennials, we are constantly being bombarded by flawless photos of people who seem to be crushing it in life. They have their highly successful careers and side hustles with captions of encouragement and positive affirmations that placate us and promise to heal us from whatever it is that’s hurting us. We buy into whatever influencers say will change our lives, we follow these people in hopes that they’ll follow us back, and we try to escape the daily grind by scrolling, fantasizing, and wishing for unrealistic standards of perfection, even if we are in denial that we want to be as perfect as influencers seem to be.
But it is critical to take a step back and evaluate just how much social media influences the way we view ourselves. Even though it is a wonderful thing that words, photos, and videos are being shared and people have the chance to be seen and heard, there’s always an underlying fear that we aren’t doing enough with our own lives. It leads us to believe that we need to be just like popular influencers in order to be highly valued and prove that we can also achieve a high level of success for ourselves, which involves having a great deal of influence over a massive audience.
It’s perfectly fine to desire growth and put in the effort to make it happen. It’s okay if you still want to create things and get your content out there, instead of keeping everything to yourself.
However, it’s definitely harmful if you chase after success solely for how it would look to others, panic over a loss of followers, and equate your personal and professional worth with how many followers and likes you have.
It’s a lie that anyone can be a popular influencer.
It’s a lie that you need to gain a massive following in order to be considered successful.
It’s a lie that your legacy is based on how well you’re able to sell a lifestyle to people who feel down on themselves and think your formula will solve difficult life situations that have no simple solution to begin with.
It’s a lie that you need to be someone of social importance to be happy and find worth in yourself.
You are worth more than the number of likes you have. You are worth more than the amount of friends you have on Facebook. You are worth more than the number of followers you have on Instagram and Twitter. Your life is not a highlight reel, and it should never be your goal to make it one. You don’t need to do more than what you have energy for. You don’t need to look flawless all the time, post professional-looking selfies every hour, mass-produce posts, or filter out your true feelings to gain likes.
You are allowed to take a hiatus and reconnect with your inner spirit.
You are allowed to disconnect and stop yourself from posting anything that’s not genuine.
You are allowed to show the world some honest vulnerability.
And you should remember that there are many things that are more valuable than being a popular influencer:
1. How well you budget and prioritize your time in order to take care of your loved ones and make sacrifices for the sake of their wellbeing.
2. Deciding to change your life for yourself only, one small step at a time.
3. The way you smile and light up when you’re alone, doing something that makes you happy, and being fully immersed in the present and totally not planning to upload this moment on social media.
4. Letting go of the obsession of pursuing a revenge life just to prove people wrong and make them sorry that they ever put you in pain, as well as realizing that it’s all a waste of time to live in bitterness and hurt over what people did to you in the past.
5. The difference you make in your job and how you contribute to the company, even when it isn’t Instagram-worthy, glamorous, or big enough to be deserving of an accolade. It’s all about your effort and dedication, not how much it’s broadcasted.
6. Enjoying a nice solitary walk in the evening and watching the sunset as the evening breeze blows through your hair.
7. Streams-of-consciousness journaling and pouring out what you’ve held in too long and realizing how therapeutic it is.
8. Sharing a vulnerable story of your own struggles, without any expectations of popularity, and then having someone tell you that it has saved their life.
9. How kind you are to customer service people and how much you show them respect.
10. Eating a home-cooked meal that you made for yourself with wholesome ingredients and how much money you saved that day from forgoing the takeout.
11. How much you laugh in a given day, despite how much you’re struggling and how not everything goes your way.
12. The amazing feeling you get after you step out of the shower and get dressed in the morning.
13. Finally opening your eyes up to the little miracles of life that you have often took for granted because you were too caught up with everything that’s wrong.
14. Reading your favorite personal development articles and essays and finding something enlightening that you can apply to your own life.
15. The taste of your favorite type of coffee or tea.
16. Enjoying a long weekend nap after a busy and stressful week.
17. Being a confidant for a friend because you’ve demonstrated trustworthiness and shown that you’re there to listen and show emotional support without any judgment whatsoever.
18. How much progress you’ve made in creating something that brings you joy. Even if it’s not popular.
19. Telling the truth about something you feel strongly about and feeling a weight lifted off of your shoulders as a result of doing so.
20. Choosing to stay in and have an evening all to yourself to recharge, instead of going out to a place you don’t want to be at with people you don’t really want to be with at a time when you feel least energized.
21. The magical feeling of rereading old favorite books from your childhood.
22. Buying a new classic staple for your wardrobe, especially if it’s something that you’ve been budgeting for and had the discipline to delay instant gratification in order to afford it.
23. Rereading your top five favorite books and thinking about the way they’ve impacted your life.
24. The changing of seasons and how the beginning of a new season serves as a time of reinventing yourself, removing what doesn’t serve you, and adding more of what you desire most in life.
25. Remembering to charge your devices the night before and not the morning of.
26. Letting go of toxic beliefs that have held you back and made you feel guilty for existing the way you are. Embracing who you are and what you stand for and not backing down.
27. Recognizing that you are irreplaceable, regardless of what anyone else says.
28. Understanding that you are your own personal warrior and acting accordingly.
29. The fact that you have grown wiser than you were before.
30. Rising after you’ve fallen. Changing yourself after hitting rock-bottom. Becoming more at peace and wiser than you thought you’d be. Overcoming whatever you were suffering from. Believing in yourself after experiencing years of paralyzing guilt and self-doubt. Loving yourself for the unique and quirky things you do and realizing that nobody has the power to take this love away from you.